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Photo: Courtesy Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York
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Bureau table

Object number



Maker, attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


34 1/4 36 1/2 19 1/2 in. (86.995 92.71 49.53 cm)



Current location



Made in Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar and chestnut (secondary)




Illegible graphite on dust board below frieze drawer


Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York, by 1984

Associated names

Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc.


The single-board oblong top is molded on its front and side edges, under which is a single-piece beaded cove molding, which, like the top?s square rear edge, slightly overhangs the back of the case. The top is secured to the case by means of two transverse dovetail keyways atop two longitudinal battens dovetailed to the single-board case sides. Under the battens are transverse strips, fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The case back consists of two horizontal boards nailed with brads into rabbets in the case sides, and directly into vertical elements within the case and into the case bottom. The case bottom consists of one large board, dovetailed to the case sides, and one narrow board at the back. In both boards are rosehead and other nails attaching them to vertical elements in the case above. The top rail of the case fits into grooves in the case sides; behind it are three rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The drawer divider below is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Its cockbeading appears to be integral; the cockbeading at the stiles is applied with brads. In the full-depth dustboard behind are rosehead nails, laid out with scribelines, fixing it to the vertical stiles below. The divider below the frieze drawer joins the case in half-blind dovetail joints and is cockbeaded on its bottom edge across the recessed "kneehole" section. The short drawer dividers as well as the bottom rails below are also half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Their horizontal cockbeading is integral, the vertical cockbeading nailed on with brads. In the upper face of each bottom rail are three rosehead nails joining it to the case bottom. Each drawer divider is aligned with a support, nailed to the case sides with brads. Some drawers retain their stops, nailed with brads into the case sides in the interior corners, some do not. The central recessed section contains a shelf set into grooves in the side walls. Its single-piece, concave-blocked, shell-carved door swings on hinges set in a beaded frame. Within the case, the convex-and concave-blocked upper drawer-front has a central carved shell and two flanking applied shells. Its multi-board drawer bottom, perpendicular to the front, is nailed with brads into rabbets in the bottom of the drawer front. The convex-blocked small-drawer fronts meet their rounded-top drawer sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The full-width, single-board drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are chamfered at the front where they fit into grooves, and at the sides, where they are held on by brads through full-depth drawer runners. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads into the drawer backs. The ogee-shaped base molding is evidently nailed from within the case. The feet consist of horizontal shaped blocks, glued and fixed with rosehead nails (and screws in a later-L-shaped metal bracket) to the case bottom, to which are applied vertical shaped rectangular blocks, the whole faced with volute-carved ogee brackets. The rear feet are similarly arranged, except for the back brackets, which are straight, ogee-shaped boards, butted against the inside face of the outward facing ogee brackets. Shadows on the outside of the back brackets indicate the former presence of blocking. Holes on the underside of the vertical blocks of the feet indicate the former presence of risers and/or casters. Examined by P.E. Kane, September 10, 2007; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Other bureau tables attributed to John Townsend include RIF 231, RIF 271, RIF661, RIF1430, RIF1784, and RIF3607. A variation, also attributed to John Townsend, has a cupboard that is not recessed, see RIF210 and RIF 1431.


Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 162, Pl. 23, fig. 3.86, 3.86a.